Toilet training - Better Lives Healthy Futures

Toilet training

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Whether you teach your child to use a potty or a toilet, it’s a new skill for them to learn. It takes patience and it’s important to work with your child.

What to expect

All children develop differently. They need to be physically ready to control their bladder and bowels and they need to be able to show that they want to use the potty or toilet before starting training.

Some children will be dry during the day by the age of two and we would expect most children to be reliably dry during the day by the time they are four years old.  Being dry at night will take longer. There will be some children with specific needs and may need other help and support.

So generally, a good time to think about starting potty or toilet training is between the ages of two and two and a half.  It’s best to try when there are no big changes at home, for example the arrival of a new baby, or when there’s a change in routine, like going on holiday.

Some children may not be ready to start at two and a half and its best to wait till they are a little older. We don’t expect children to start school in nappies unless there’s a good reason, and most children wouldn’t choose to go to school in nappies. With the right help and encouragement, they should be dry and in pants by the time they start school.

Some signs that your child might be ready for potty or toilet training

  • Can they get on, off and sit on the potty or toilet (with a step and toilet/trainer seat)?
  • Are they showing signs they can hold their urine and be dry for a couple of hours?
  • Are they having their bowels open at a similar time each day?
  • Do they notice they have passed urine or had their bowels open?

Top tips

  • Keep potty training positive!
  • You don’t need to buy expensive pottys or gadgets. A simple potty and/or child’s detachable toilet/trainer seat with a step for their feet should be enough.
  • Make using the toilet or potty normal. Children need to understand that this is an ordinary part of growing up. For example, you might keep the potty out in the bathroom before they start potty training and they might want to try sitting on it.
  • Work with others who look after your child, for example grandparents or nursery.
  • Don’t worry if there is the odd accident, for example if your child gets excited or upset.

Where to get help and advice about potty training

Have a look at the NHS guide on potty training which has some useful links including ERIC which is a specialist charity which gives lots of advice on potty training as well guidance with specific problems or concerns.

There is some advice on potty training problems available, for example if your child doesn’t want to sit on the potty.

Your Family Health Team can give more support. Talk to the team when your child has their two to two-and-a-half-year review or contact them for advice.

Also speak to your child minder or nursery where they are involved in your child’s care. They will also have lots of experience and knowledge.

Bed wetting in under 5s

This can be a worry for parents but for young children this is not at all unusual.

  • up to one in five 5-year-olds wet the bed
  • one in 20 10-year-olds wet the bed
  • about 1 in 50 teenagers wet the bed
  • about 1 in 100 teenagers continue to wet the bed into adulthood

Please use the links below for more information.

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Further information


Using a potty is a new skill for your child to learn. It’s best to take it slowly and go at your child’s pace. Being patient with them will help them get it right, even if you sometimes feel frustrated. For more information on potty training please visit the NHS website.

Potty training problems

Potty training can often come with its own set of niggles and problems for you both to overcome. For advice on how to overcome these problems such as your child not wanting to use the potty or your child not staying sat on the potty visit this guide.

ERIC – the Children’s Bowel and Bladder Charity

ERIC, the Children’s Bowel and Bladder Charity, helps to give every child and teenager with a bowel or bladder condition the support they deserve to enjoy a life free from shame, isolation and fear. For more information visit this link.